With Announcement of Near-Record Cash-On-Hand, Oceana Urges PPG Industries to Modernize its Chlorine Plant
Press Release Date: January 21, 2010
Location: Washington, D.C.
In the wake of PPG’s announcement of near record cash-on-hand and higher-than-projected earnings, Oceana, an ocean conservation group working to persuade chlor-alkali manufacturers such as PPG Industries to go “mercury-free,” urged the company to stop using polluting mercury-based technology in its Natrium, WV plant. In an earnings release, PPG Industries today announced that fourth quarter net earnings increased to $142 million or 85 cents per share. It also announced that the company generated more than $1.3 billion in cash-on-hand in 2009.
On the day that PPG announced its 2009 earnings, Oceana argues that switching to mercury-free technology offers many bottom-line benefits.
“According to PPG Industries, the company doubled its fourth quarter net income from $71 million in 2008 to $142 million in 2009. But despite PPG’s profitability, the company refuses to modernize its mercury-emitting chlor-alkali facility in Natrium, WV,” said Simon Mahan, Oceana campaign analyst.
Oceana argued that PPG Industries should install cleaner, more efficient, mercury-free technology in its chlor-alkali plants, similar to technology already in place in many U.S. chlorine plants.
Relevant data about PPG’s Natrium plant:
- Estimated one-time cost of Natrium plant conversion to mercury-free technology: $38.1 million
- Energy efficiency following conversion: 25 to 37 percent increase
- Annual energy cost savings from 25 percent increase in efficiency: $2.3 million
- Annual estimated cost savings from eliminating mercury use: $575,000
- Estimated total conversion cost over 30 years: -$7 million (net savings)
The PPG Industries’ Natrium, WV plant is one of four remaining U.S. mercury-based chlor-alkali facilities. The other 27 plants, which represent more than 95 percent of U.S. chlor-alkali industry capacity, already use clean, mercury-free technology, eliminating toxic mercury pollution.
More than 115 chlor-alkali facilities worldwide have already converted to more efficient, mercury-free membrane-cell chlorine technology, including three of PPG’s other chlor-alkali facilities (for example: Lake Charles, Louisiana; Beauharnois, Canada; Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei ). Modernizing chlor-alkali facilities saved hundreds of jobs and created new jobs in communities surrounding these factories, while reducing energy costs by as much as 37 percent and extending operating lifetimes to 40 years.
The Mercury Pollution Reduction Act (H.R. 2190/S. 1428) would require a phase-out of mercury-based chlorine production technology. When passed, the House version of the bill will give PPG Industries and other companies the option to convert their facilities to mercury-free technology by mid-2015 or stop using mercury by mid-2013 if they refuse to modernize. PPG’s previous conversion to cleaner technology at its Lake Charles, LA facility took only 24 months to complete.